Archive for August, 2011

FPS’ Friday Fiver

posted by Edward Jones

Friday Fiver

Good afternoon and welcome to this week’s Friday Fiver. Thanks to Clare, Sallie, Dave and Jo for contributions. Conscious of your likely yearning to get out of the office and enjoy your Bank Holiday, we’ve tried to keep this one brief.


Up for the Jobs?


Waking up to the 6am news on the Today programme yesterday to hear that Steve Jobs had resigned as CEO from the company he founded, I was struck by the fact that one man’s resignation could make global news. It made me wonder how many other resignations – aside from those that take place in the political world – would garner so much interest. My conclusion was: not many! It then got me thinking about how many CEOs I could name from other technology companies. And the answer was none. So what is it about Steve Jobs that helped him capture the world’s imagination?

Read the rest of this entry »

FPS’ Friday Fiver

Hello All! August really isn’t showing any sign of slowing down is it? At the start of the week there was a collective pause for breath, but since Wednesday it’s been a case of deja vu with the world’s markets continuing to do their best impression of the Pepsi Max Big One. The focus of the Friday Fiver this week is understandably on these events, but we also find time for a bit of sporting action too. Thanks to Ed, Ross, Jonathan and new writer Helen this week.

Wither Angela, Woe Nicolas…..Tuesday’s summit between Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy was their latest attempt to tackle the Eurozone’s woes. However, no matter what they do to try and convince markets otherwise, politicians both sides of the Atlantic are still failing to win over investors’ confidence.

It's not all hugs and smiles in the Eurozone anymore - another tough week for Merkel & Sarkozy

Does democracy have any culpability for this? Well yes, it does. Merkel is finding it increasingly difficult to win domestic support for the continued underwriting of Eurozone debt – Germany’s latest growth figures won’t help her cause here either. She knows that the electorate are less likely to vote for a Chancellor who uses German money to bail out other nations, than one who does not. Despite this, the Eurozone’s survival largely depends on German financial commitment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Man Utd’s IPO: A paradox to fans’ ambitions

posted by Edward Jones

Man Utd’s application to list on the Singapore Stock Exchange and make available 30% of the club to Asian investors is a paradox to efforts from fans and parliament alike to see local supporters have a greater say in the direction of their football club.

It is also confirmation of the global reach of those few clubs at the pinnacle of world football and serves as a reminder to the debts they’re carrying, the dizzying sums they spend and despite all this, the sheer force of their brands.

At its heart, the IPO is a symbol for the increasing monetisation of football. The beautiful game has become a beautiful business, or as is more often the case, a burden, on wealthy individuals willing to take the ultimate gamble.

The joke used to be that Man United have more fans in London than they do in Manchester, it now seems they have more fans in the Far-East than they do in the UK. The FT on Wednesday suggested of Man United’s 333m global fan base, 190m come from Asia. That an audience in the Far-East is predicted to have the potential to impose a higher valuation of a football club in Manchester is both testament to the Red Devils’ Asian appeal and the emerging power of the Asian economy, particularly in contrast to Europe.

The Culture, Media and Sport Commons Select Committee’s recent report into football governance called on the FA to look at means of giving properly constituted supporters trusts, or consortia which include supporters trusts, an opportunity to make a successful matching bid for a club that has gone into administration. Admittedly, Man United is not in this position, in spite of its mega debts, but whilst the ambitions of the Government, and I suspect most fans would be to have a greater say in the running of their club, the current crop of football owners have other ideas.

The float in Singapore seems to make business sense for the owners, which is increasingly what football decisions are coming down to. It will no doubt be accompanied by major marketing efforts to tap into United’s growing Asian fan base.

It does seem a shame however that the Red Knights and those on the terraces in the gold and green scarves will not get a more direct opportunity to buy a stake in their club and that this will serve as the model for football ownership in the immediate future.

FPS’ Friday Fiver

Another week and one in which unsurprisingly, UK media attention focused primarily on the England riots (Peter Oborne’s piece today captured the wider issue rather well I believe). That’s not to say things haven’t been happening elsewhere though, particularly in the financial world.

With that in mind, here’s a round-up of the key stories from all aspects of this week. Thanks to Jonathan, Ross, new writer Claire Scott, and also our MD, Ben – his article is second up and attempts to add some perspective to events.

Zut alors…..Another week, another country but the issue, namely financial stability, remains the same. Early in the week one of the world’s best known fund managers, Bill Miller, published a response to S&P’s downgrade of US government debt. The articleA precipitate, wrong and dangerous decision ran in the FT and is well worth a read.

There was a lot of this going on this week, as markets behaved in wild fashion

By Wednesday however, the bottle had stopped spinning yet again and this time it was the turn of France and its credit worthiness to come under scrutiny. With speculation about the health of some of the country’s largest banks and the ability of the nation to underwrite possible further bailouts in southern Europe giving investors sweaty palms.

Sovereign debt has become synonymous with Western governments but in today’s FT, Jamil Anderlini provides an alternative perspective arguing that the disparity between China’s official and actual debt levels deserve further scrutiny.

Putting perspective on this week…..The riots captured the UK media’s attention, and were clearly unacceptable. They raise all sorts of questions about society, as well as being highly damaging for London and the UK’s image with the Olympics round the corner. At the same time though, there are bigger and potentially more threatening global economic issues at play at the moment. While you can understand the rolling news channels’ focus on the riots, with all due respect they are a catastrophe on a much smaller scale than what is going on in Europe and the financial markets.

Read the rest of this entry »

FPS’ Friday Fiver


The horsemen of the apocalypse were heard rumbling across financial markets this week. These developments top the Fiver but we have also found time for social media blunders and an aggressive hand puppet amongst other items. Thanks to Ed, Dave, Jo and Ross for their contributions to this week’s Fiver.

 An uncomfortable ceiling

 The Western world is in trouble again. On both sides of the Atlantic politicians and investors have been fretting about huge, almost incomprehensible amounts of money relating to the indebtedness of governments.

This week was perhaps the most dramatic instalment of the credit crisis since the collapse of Lehman Brothers back in September 2008. It started in the US with Democrats and Republicans at loggerheads over the country’s debt ceiling. Without an agreement to raise the country’s self-imposed credit limit, the US faced the prospect of not being able to meet its debt commitments.

A deal was eventually agreed with compromises and winners and losers on both sides of the political fence. The sums of money involved are truly staggering as the graphics below illustrate. The full graphics can be found here –

[$100million in one hundred dollar notes]

[$114 trillion - !!!]

For years now we have been talking of these developments in terms of a crisis but to me, the images above suggest a new political and economic reality for government’s of the West. It will be some time before even the world’s richest nation can reduce an overdraft of this magnitude.

Letters from lawyers

Letters from lawyers never seem like an optimal solution to life’s problems, least of all if you’re Newcastle United and Joey Barton is the catalyst. In an interesting article in the Guardian today it is apparent that Newcastle United has sent a legal letter to their players warning them against the use of twitter to comment of club affairs.

[It’s definitely all ok]

Sport, and football in particular is unique, predominantly because of the potency of player power. Contracts are signed in an ever closing window and the stakes are high. What isn’t unique however is the fact football clubs are struggling to grapple with social media, it’s something every business, small medium or large is having to deal with. 

There is however, a relatively simple solution to this, it’s called Social Media Guidelines, and every member of staff is made aware of them when they join the company and reminded of on a regular basis, leaving no room for doubt and entrusting employees to make the right judgements and be good ambassadors for your business. Whilst Newcastle, following Man United’s lead, may have finally found it, a lawyer’s letter is perhaps not the best form of delivery. This week we came across a list of social media guidelines from a wide range of businesses, and it’s worth spending a couple of minutes to see how different companies approach their staff guidelines.

Continuing on the Twitter theme…

Collectively MPs send around 2,500 tweets a week equating to 1,000 hours a year spent tweeting, according to new research by Westminster Public Affairs. Undoubtedly, some constituents will see this as evidence that their MP is a time waster simply spending unnecessary time thumbing messages into their Blackberry. However, these constituents would be wrong.

For those that follow active MPs on Twitter, you quickly build up a personal picture of what they are like – something most constituents struggle with when they think of their MP. Twitter also allows MPs to deliver punchy messaging and highlight their ongoing campaigns; Stella Creasy MP barely writes a tweet without mentioning ‘legal loan sharking’ which allows her to keep up a sustained campaign and certainly builds traction. Whilst old fashioned excellent oratory skills that can be exercised in the House of Commons should be something that all MPs retain, other channels of communication, of which Twitter is one, will increasingly play a influential role.

If you’ve got a message to convey, tweeting alone will not suffice. But, co-ordinated alongside traditional channels, tweeting can certainly bring a personal touch and facilitate previously difficult direct interaction with your audience. John Prescott certainly believes in the power of Twitter:  Just buying a simple all in one fax, printer, copier. Any recommendations? (from 3rd Aug)       

Summer slump

Last week we talked about the ever declining choice of retailers as they struggle against a dire economy. This week it’s the turn of travel companies with the collapse of Holidays 4 U, affecting over 50,000 holidaymakers planning on catching some rays in Turkey. According to experts this is an unusually early time of year for such a collapse but it emphasises the rising costs and change in attitude towards booking holidays.  

[schools are out]

Being in the middle of the school summer holidays, there are likely to be many tearful children and disappointed parents who were looking forward to a week in Bodrum or similar (I on the other hand may have been slightly relieved at spending a week there), and now starts the long wait for refunds and compensation.

For those that are lucky enough not to be going to Turkey or having booked with Holidays 4 U then you might want to have a read of the 2011 guide to holiday money hosted on Visa’s website which includes top tips from around the world on how to save some money to haggling in Marrakesh and tipping in Chicago.

 Good Week/Bad Week…

 Given the turmoil that’s affected markets this week, there perhaps aren’t too many people who’ve enjoyed a good week in the most literal sense. One group who’ve perhaps fared less badly though are workers with final salary pensions. Unlike their colleagues in defined contribution schemes, whose pension pots rise and fall with the markets, their level of benefits remain largely guaranteed regardless of the markets.

On the bad week front, we could probably name half the City, leading politicians who’ve taken a beating for being on holiday during the turmoil, or indeed the aforementioned DC pension holders. Instead though, we’re going to plump for Paul Daniels. The man married to Debbie McGee was the unfortunate victim of one of those rare, (but all too comic) freak accidents that you really find it hard to believe could cause a hospital admission. We could describe it for you, but ultimately, we think this article in the Metro does a pretty good job of it. As an aside, it’s worth following his ‘attacker’ on Twitter as well, purely to see what happens next.


[Sooty's all smiles. Then he turned..]